After portraying Bob Gaudio in the Toronto and and First National Tour companies of Jersey Boys, Quinn VanAntwerp made his Broadway debut last fall when he joined the New York company of the production.
You’ve played Bob Gaudio in three different companies of Jersey Boys (Toronto, First National Tour and Broadway). What is it like to transition between the three companies? Especially going from the touring company to Broadway?
Changing companies is always a fun and stressful challenge. The first time I changed companies, from Toronto to the 1st National tour, was the hardest. I closed Toronto on Sunday night and said goodbye to the company I had spent 2 years with, packed up all my stuff, and on Wednesday I flew to Austin, TX and saw the show. The shows were not only different in blocking (the lift in front in Toronto vs the speed set with pallets that bring on microphones from offstage right and left on tour) but also the Tour plays bigger houses sometimes up to 4000 people. So everything on the road seemed bigger, louder, and funnier. I really learned a lot from that company and I loved singing with those guys.
When I made the move to Broadway it was much easier. I was going back to the lift set that we had in Toronto and I also knew by that point how to adapt to my fellow actors. I think if you get too married to how you play the part and what moments in the show you love, then when you change companies and encounter new actors you aren’t able to adapt and find what is special between you. I always take this approach especially with my Frankies. I think that the Bob/Frankie relationship is super important and so I allow my interpretation of Bob to change as I encounter a new Frankie. They all need Bob’s support in different ways and if you force anything you lose out on the chemistry that is particular to each person. This also goes for the whole company. Jersey Boys is an ensemble piece and each company has a personality and vibe that is different from the others and that helps color your performance as well.
After being with the Broadway Company of Jersey Boys for about six months now, other than the night of your debut, has there been a time when you take a step back and can’t believe this is what you get to do for a living?
Yes for sure! My experience with my Broadway Debut, like many I think, is that it all goes by so fast that it’s hard to really let anything sink in. But 3 ½ years ago, when I first got cast in the show, I would watch the Broadway Company with Jarrod Spector and Matt Bogart and Imagine that if I worked hard and played my cards right, someday I might be able to perform with those extremely talented guys. So it often hits me when we are out for drinks or playing Broadway Softball together, that that dream came true. I feel very blessed
You spent a year traveling the country with the First National Tour of Jersey Boys. Do you have a favorite city or fan experience from one of the tour stops?
Favorite City would have to be Philadelphia. I really loved it there. We got to spend 10 weeks there and the entire city treated us like family. It was an amazing experience. Bob Gaudio’s daughter Lisa Gaudio also lives there and so getting to spend some time with her and her family was really special to me. Lisa also helped us put on an incredible concert at the Four Season’s hotel there where we raised over $150,000 for Broadway cares in one night. It was really a phenomenal effort from our cast but championed by Lisa and our incredible Frankie on the road, Joseph Leo Bwarie. With the concert and nightly collecting, we raised over $250,000 for Broadway Cares that Year.
Everyone loves Jersey Boys. I know several people who don’t consider themselves “Broadway people”, but who can’t get enough of Jersey Boys. Why do you think this show resonates so well with people?
It’s a show about real people. Not just historically real people, but I mean people like you and me who grew up in working class families and towns. I also think that Broadway is full of stories that are aimed towards women but it’s rare to find a show that is based around the brotherhood of four men. Obviously the music is some of the best there is, but as someone who has done the show over 1300 times, this script is the best I’ve ever read. It has so much heart and true emotion in it. Rick and Marshall really knocked it out of the park. It is an honor to play a show where the material requires you to rise to the occasion each night and sets the bar very high for you.
Every performer has that moment where it just “clicks” and they know performing is what they want to do for a living. What was that moment for you?
Well, I grew up my entire life in the arts. My mother is a dance teacher and runs a school (S.P.A.C.E – School of Performing Arts and Cultural Education).in my hometown Ukiah,CA. The school teaches children about cultural education, racism, sexism, domestic violence etc… through the arts. It really is an amazing organization for such a small town.
So really I was born into it. But the first time I remember really knowing that it was MY choice, that I wanted to sing, was when John Raitt came to town to do a concert. My grandmother took me, I must’ve been 11, and when he sang I got these chills down my spine. Just the sheer power of his voice changed the chemistry in my body. I remember leaning over to my grandmother and told her “I wanna do that!” So really I give john Raitt credit for my career. In High School I had the pleasure of doing construction for John Raitt’s son David. Last summer I was invited home to sing with my hometown orchestra outside under the stars at a beautiful winery, and David and Bonnie Raitt came and let me wear one of John’s blazers for the concert. It was a really special night for me. It could’ve been the same blazer that John wore 15 years ago on the night I heard him sing in Ukiah and my life changed.
A big thanks to Quinn for taking the time to chat. Be sure to check out JERSEY BOYS at the August Wilson Theatre in New York. Follow Quinn on Twitter @QuinnVanAntwerp and check out quinnvanantwerp.com.